Monday, 2 November 2009


I read a lot, but I stopped getting a daily newspaper quite a while ago: I no longer see the point, to be quite honest. For one thing, newspapers lost the battle against 24 hour news channels quite a while ago,

(incidentally, I loathe rolling news channels...well, that's not entirely true. I have a love/hate/hate relationship with them, I suppose. I always come away from half an hour with Sky News or BBC feeling slightly less informed than I was previously. Maybe it's just me, grey cells corroding and all that...)

and for another, the wonders of the World Wide Web mean that I can get pretty much anything I want, gratis

(although Mr Murdoch seems determined to change that)

but this aside, the truth is that - in the news sections, at least - there is rarely anything worth reading. Straightforward news accounts are generally rather scanty, and more often than not are not followed up, leaving the curious reader with the duty to go get his detailed stuff elsewhere. Opinion and thinly-veiled partisan commentary generally trump sober analysis and fact; and, a lot of the time, new reports are plucked from the same general sources - Reuters, AP, AFP - and gently recycled and spun according to the whims and inclinations of the outlet.

(On the last point, it's worth reading Nick Davies' excellent Flat Earth News. You'll never look at a newspaper the same way again, I promise you...)

A couple of contemporary examples from Eretz Yisrael:

Goldstone: Has effectively become a football game, with the press merely keeping score. The fundamental questions have been lost beneath what is charmingly referred to as the PR War.

The Amnesty report on the (mis)use of Palestinian water resources: Even if one accepts every word to be just ain't news. It hasn't been news for years. As proof, I recommend reading Bernard Wasserstein's Israel & Palestine, particularly pp 80 - 97. Covers pretty much the same ground, in cool and coherent language...and was published six years ago.

Maybe I'm just getting cantankerous and crochety as I ease belly first into middle-age...

Anyway, these days I get a paper just at the weekend, which keep me happy for the week. The supplements, thankfully, run to different deadline priorities; write ups tend to have more of a consistence and narration-al coherency to them, I think. It's pretty easy, I think, to bullshit with 500 words, but it becomes much more difficult with 2500.

And I subscribe to a couple of magazines...

There's an interesting piece in this weeks New Yorker about Gaza, Gilad Shalit and the Guys in Green. Long enough to remind us of the historical antecedents to the sorry state of affairs down south at the moment. No one comes out of it looking good. Worth reading.

On a completely unrelated note: Is there any chance of someone getting the rain to, like, stop? I know I sound ungrateful and all, but my clothes are all wet, I can't do the laundry and I have to dash out for a cigarette between breaks in the rain that's been thundering down since Friday. Most inconsiderate.

On the good side, the Sukkah has come down. Not quite sure how - perhaps the wind dismantled it - but frankly, I don't care. As someone said once, Mission Accomplished.

Somehow, I think I'm going to regret saying that.

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